Transparency International Sri Lanka has written to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa highlighting an opportunity for Sri Lanka to take global leadership in financial transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
TISL made three key recommendations in the letter which includes establishing of an online platform providing all information on grants/donations received with timely updates on spending.
The other recommendations are maintenance of an e–procurement platform to publish all government tender notices and related documents, technical evaluations, decisions etc., providing timely updates during the procurement process and implementation and issuing a circular reinforcing the need for strict record management practices in all public institutions in compliance with provisions of the RTI Act and regulations promulgated by the RTI Commission.
The letter said the TISL understands that so far, among others, the World Bank has pledged USD 128 million, the European Union EUR 22 million, the Chinese government has provided a concessionary loan of USD 500 million and the USA has pledged USD 6 million towards Si Lanka’s efforts to combat COVID-19.
TISL also recognized that Sri Lanka’s has pledged USD 5 million to the SAARC Coronavirus Emergency Fund . Further President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced that the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund has received more than Rs. 1 billion in donations .
TISL, while welcoming the President’s pledge to utilize the money from the Fund with complete transparency and share audited accounts with the public called upon the PM in his capacity as Minister of Finance to follow international best practices and disclose information to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds/grants from overseas.
The Executive Director of TISL Asoka Obeyesekere in the letter requested the Prime Minister to initiate steps to implement the three recommendations stating that swift action at this time will enable Sri Lanka to provide global leadership on information sharing and public engagement in the response to COVID-19 .
TISL said it would be happy to provide support to this public interest endeavor.